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Mathematics difficulties in children born very preterm: current research and future directions
  1. Victoria Simms1,
  2. Lucy Cragg2,
  3. Camilla Gilmore3,
  4. Neil Marlow4,
  5. Samantha Johnson1
  1. 1Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester, Leicester, Leics, UK
  2. 2School of Psychology, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, Notts, UK
  3. 3Centre for Mathematics Education, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leics, UK
  4. 4Research Department of Academic Neonatology, Institute for Women's Health, University College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Samantha Johnson, Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester, 22-28 Princess Road West, Leicester, Leics LE1 6TP, UK; sjj19{at}


Children born very preterm have poorer attainment in all school subjects, and a markedly greater reliance on special educational support than their term-born peers. In particular, difficulties with mathematics are especially common and account for the vast majority of learning difficulties in this population. In this paper, we review research relating to the causes of mathematics learning difficulties in typically developing children, and the impact of very preterm birth on attainment in mathematics. Research is needed to understand the specific nature and origins of mathematics difficulties in very preterm children to target the development of effective intervention strategies.

  • Child Psychology
  • Neurodevelopment
  • Neonatology

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